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Men's Health

Men on Diets

Move over, ladies -- the men are dieting too.
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By Chris Colin
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Matthew Hoffman, MD

Among Bill Clinton's post-White House ventures, one of the more striking is his campaign to reverse trends in childhood obesity. It's been remarkable for its ambition, and for the scope of its potential benefits. But perhaps most of all, it's been remarkable to see someone of Clinton's typically diet-oblivious gender speak publicly about laying off the cheeseburgers.

Diets aren’t just for women – Men diet too

Since his quadruple heart bypass surgery in 2004, the former McDonald's-lover-in-chief has been strikingly candid about his relationship to food -- candid not just for a former world leader, but candid for any man. "I was a fat band boy," he writes in My Life (a hefty volume, ironically, weighing nearly three-and-a-half pounds).

In the book, he discusses his weight fluctuations and admits to experimenting with a kind of homespun precursor to the Atkins diet. This past October, he told the New York Times that he weighs himself daily. Famously America's "first black president," Clinton might well become America's first female ex-president.

Indeed, the vast universe of dieting has been a kind of private (and grim) clubhouse for women. A realm of Jenny Craig and egg whites, Weight Watchers and fat-free yogurt, it's historically been glimpsed by men only from across the dinner table. But increasingly, the unfairer sex is beginning to find a corner in that realm all its own.

"Men are becoming more conscious of health, and with that, weight," says Betsy Klein, a registered dietician in Miami. "Being overweight is becoming such a marker for diabetes and heart disease."

Diet and masculinity

Of course the health risks of a bad diet are just part of men's motivation for changing how they eat -- we also care about how we look.

"Males of all ages are being affected by our highly body-conscious culture now," says registered dietician and exercise physiologist Samantha Heller. "Body dysmorphia -- an unhealthy view of the body -- is also increasing in men as well as women.” She tells WebMD that for men, these issues manifest differently than with women. “They tend to work out a lot, and many turn to anabolic steroids. And more and more, they're dieting while they do this."

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